Tlitli is a traditional Algerian dish made with orzo pasta accompanied by chicken, carrots, and zucchini, which is all cooked together in a flavorful broth infused with a blend of vegetables, meats, and spices. This dish involves arranging the base layer of cooked orzo pasta on a large plate that is then topped with the cooked chicken, zucchini, carrots, chickpeas, and boiled egg.
Tlitli is a dish that’s important in Algerian and North African cooking. It’s been around for a long time and is a big part of how people cook there. Families have been making it for ages and usually serve it up during parties, family gatherings, or special times.
The dish is all about mixing tasty stuff like veggies, spices, and sometimes chicken or lamb with orzo or bird’s tongue pasta. They all simmer together in a delicious broth that soaks into the pasta, making it super flavorful.
In this post, I have made my version of a delicious Algerian Tlitli recipe in which instead of rice, I am using an orzo pasta. In the Algeria & Maghrebi regions, people are familiar with the term bird’s tongue pasta because the shape of the orzo pasta kind of looks like the tongue of a bird. So if you heard someone say bird’s tongue, they are referring to the orzo pasta.
Here are the ingredient you need to make an authentic Tlitli recipe:
- Chicken Drumstick: This will be the main protein of this recipe which will contribute flavor to the broth.
- Orzo Pasta: This is the main ingredient of this recipe which will absorb the flavors of the broth as it cooks. The shape is similar to rice but it is made from semolina flour instead of white grain.
- Carrots and Zucchini: I baton-cut the zucchini and carrots. They’ll simmer in the broth, infusing it with their taste while also giving color to the final dish.
- Chickpeas: These legumes add protein and a slightly nutty flavor to the dish.
- Spices: The spices I am using include cumin, paprika, turmeric, ras el hanout & bay leaves which provide the dish with a rich Maghrebi flavor and aroma.
- Herbs: I am using garlic and red onion which adds savory elements and depth to the broth.
- Tomato Paste: The tomato paste will be used to redden the broth and add tomato flavor.
- Olive Oil: Used for cooking which helps bring all the flavors together.
- Boiled Egg (For topping): I used boiled egg for the purposes of topping in Tlitli during the finishing touch.
- Water: The base for the broth, is necessary to cook the pasta and vegetables while allowing the flavors of the spices and other ingredients to meld together.
Step by Step Instruction
Step 1: add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the cooking pan.
Step 2: Once the oil is hot, I add the chopped red onion and then garlic. Stir till it turns translucent.
Steps 3 & 4: Next, I added the chicken drumstick and then I gave it a quick stir before adding all the spices. Mix to stir.
Step 5: I poured water until it was enough to cover the chicken and then I added the tomato paste.
Step 6: Next, I added the chickpeas, and baton-cut zucchini & carrots. Let it simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
Step 7: Once you reach the 15-minute mark in cooking, add the chopped parsley, salt, and black pepper. Mix gently and continue simmering until you reach the 30-minute mark.
Step 8: After that, I removed all the chicken, vegetables and chickpeas. Set the broth aside.
Step 9: To cook the orzo or bird’s tongue pasta, add olive oil in a separate pan.
Step 10: Once hot, add the orzo pasta which I gently stir until it turns light brown.
Step 11 & 12: Next, I transfer the pasta into the broth. While it’s simmering, I gently stir it so it will not stick to the pan. Once the water is fully dried out and the orzo pasta is soft, turn off the heat.
Step 13 & 14: This is optional but I placed the cooked chicken in the baking and then placed it in the oven. Broil the chicken for less than 10 minutes to brown it.
How do you serve Tlitli?
Traditionally, Tlilti is served on a large plate since this is common when you make this during family gatherings and other special occasions where everyone will have a bite of this delicious Algerian food.
Step 15: Add the orzo/bird’s tongue pasta as a base layer on a large plate.
Step 16: Add the baton-cut carrots and zucchini on the sides. The chickpeas will be placed in the center.
Step 17: Lastly, place the chicken and boiled egg on the sides. This arrangement on top of orzo pasta will give you a colorful and appealing presentation.
Tips and Hints
- To intensify the flavor, you can add chicken broth instead of water.
- Taste the broth first if more season is needed before transferring the orzo pasta into it.
- Placing the vegetables and protein on top of tlitli (orzo pasta) gives an appealing presentation of the dish.
- You can add different proteins like lamb or beef.
- Stir the tlitli gently while it cooks to prevent it from sticking together.
- If the orzo pasta turns out too dry, you can add a bit of extra water or a drizzle of olive oil while it’s cooking to moisten it up.
Other Algerian recipes to try
Here are the other delicious Algerian food recipes you can cook for your loved one:
📋 Recipe Card
Tlitli a traditional Algerian dish, combines orzo pasta, chicken, carrots, zucchini, and chickpeas in a flavorful broth. The dish is assembled by layering cooked orzo pasta on a plate and topping it with chicken, vegetables, chickpeas, and boiled egg
- 6 Chicken Drumsticks
- 1.5 cup Orzo Pasta adjust if needed
- 1 medium-sized Carrot baton-cut
- 1 large Zucchini baton-cut
- ½ can of Chickpeas about 7.5 oz / 212g, drained and rinsed
- 4 cloves Garlic chopped
- 1 medium-sized Red Onion chopped
- 1.5 tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 4 Boiled Eggs 1 per serving
- Approximately 4 cups Water for the broth Or until it is enough to cover the chicken
- 2 teaspoon Salt Add more if needed
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- 2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout
- 2 Bay leaves
Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a cooking pot.
Sauté chopped red onion and garlic until translucent.
Add chicken drumsticks and spices, stirring well. Pour enough water to cover the chicken and mix in tomato paste.
Add chickpeas, baton-cut zucchini, and carrots. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
At the 15-minute mark, add chopped parsley, salt, and black pepper. Continue simmering until reaching 30 minutes.
Remove chicken, vegetables, and chickpeas, setting aside the broth.
In a separate pan, heat olive oil for orzo/bird’s tongue pasta. Lightly brown the pasta.
Combine the pasta with the broth and simmer until the liquid evaporates and the pasta softens.
Optionally, place cooked chicken in a baking dish and broil for less than 10 minutes for a golden finish.
To serve, layer the orzo/bird’s tongue pasta on a large plate. Arrange baton-cut carrots and zucchini on the sides, placing chickpeas in the center. Position chicken and boiled egg on the sides for an appealing presentation atop the pasta.
- You can use chicken broth instead of water to enhance the flavor.
- Stir the tlitli gently while cooking to prevent sticking together.
- Orzo pasta and Bird’s Tongue pasta are both the same thing.
- Add more water if the orzo pasta turns out too dry when cooking.
Serving: 4gCalories: 700kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 45gFat: 40gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 200mgSodium: 500mgPotassium: 300mgFiber: 4.5gVitamin A: 150IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 3mg